“don’t let the label of being a tattooer go to your head"

We headed down to Hard Luck Tattoo in Kingston Upon Thames and met resident artist Kathryn Ursula. We asked how she became a tattoo artist and what advise she has for anyone trying to find there place in the industry.

When and how did you get into tattooing? 

I got into the tattoo industry in 2014 roughly, that’s when I got an apprenticeship. I searched for a while and a couple fell through but I didn’t give up and finally found a street shop sort of place that took me on. I painted and drew a lot, watched them tattoo, then did my first tattoo around 2015. I started off as an illustrator though, I used to design stuff for BMX companies, flyers for bars (they’d usually pay me in drinks haha) all fun stuff but none of it was enough to pay rent really. I had always loved tattoos and had plenty it seemed like a natural fit to give tattooing a go. Although I honestly never thought it would happen! Very happy I pursued it though.

What advise would you have for people trying to find there space in the industry? 

Just the classic...draw draw and draw. Paint lots! But definitely go and get tattooed by people, hang out in shops and pay an interest to the industry. Research different styles, buy books, travel, look up the history of tattoos and why things are done the way they are now. The evolution of it all is pretty fascinating. And if the natural fascination with tattoos isn’t there I wouldn’t continue... nothing worse than a tattooer who isn’t tattooed or doesn’t care for its history. As for finding an apprenticeship I honestly think it’s happened differently for most people I know, if you show the dedication and interest I think it will happen organically. And also stay grounded,  especially at the beginning don’t let the label of being a “tattooer” go to your head. I think I had a year or so where I didn’t work as hard as I should have and got caught up with the social side of it all too much. Find the perfect balance but definitely enjoy it.

How do you think you have evolved as an artist?  

I’ve always tried to be a sponge! Haha so soak up as much knowledge as I can, ask all the questions..but don’t be annoying! One thing I’ve learnt along the way is you’re never too good to learn...I learn from apprentice’s sometimes. I’ve still got SO much to learn. Everyone has something to offer. But mainly I’ve learnt that if your gut is saying you disagree with someone’s advice, don’t take it. Not everyone you meet will have your best interests at heart. I try to take as much as possible but always stick to what I think will look best too. Mixing knowledge with imagination has helped me progress I think. I do believe in talent but mainly the 10,000 hour rule, if you do something enough you’ll progress.

Tell us something in your personal or professional life that will blow our minds. 

I went to 6 different schools before I was 13...and lived in three different countries. We travelled a lot when I was a kid my Dad was in the Australian Navy and My mum worked for an Asian Magazine so we even tried living in Hong Kong for a bit. Learning Cantonese at school was difficult...I pretty much remember none of it!

The best place you have ever been too and why? 

Tea Gardens in Australia, it’s a really small sea side town where I grew up. It’s beautiful and somewhere I always have the best memories of .

More images below from Danny Woodstock Photographer   

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